Kat Mendenhall loves boots and barbecue and everything that makes Texas, Texas. But seven years ago, she committed to a vegan lifestyle. She no longer eats, wears or carries anything made from animal products.
“I just, overall, didn’t feel good,” says Mendenhall about her decision to become vegan in her mid-forties. “I decided to make a diet shift.”
What started as a health-conscious dietary choice eventually became a fashion statement as well. One day, face-to-face with cattle in a trailer, Mendenhall says she realized she could not wear leather again.
This created quite a problem for a woman with a closet full of boots. They were – and still are – a fashion staple for her. A friend encouraged Mendenhall to open a business to design vegan boots and other non-leather accessories that she would feel proud to wear and sell.
“I didn’t know how to do design. I didn’t know how to open a business, and I surely didn’t know how to run a shop. But I just showed up everyday and challenged myself,” says Mendenhall.
Mendenhall owns an online and brick-and-mortar store in Dallas. She has strict criteria for the products she sells – the boots have to be handmade in Texas and all her products are custom designed.
“This is a skill in our state,” Mendenhall says. “Ninety percent of all handmade boots are made in Texas. I’m very proud of that. But it’s a dying art.”